Starring: Haruka Ayase, Christine Marie Cabanos, Miyuki Sawashiro, Cassandra Morris, Tamaki Matsumoto, Julie Maddalena, Iemasa Kayumi, Patrick Seitz
Running Time: 100 minutes
Extras: Behind the Scenes of Oblivion Island, A Visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, Battleship Island: An Actual Oblivion Island, Greetings at the Premeire, A Word From the Cast, Original Teasers, Original Trailers, TV Commercials, U.S. trailer
We all grew up with toys and objects that we felt more than just a materialistic attachment to. There were items and playthings which to us had genuine thoughts and feelings, and also forged the foundations of many of our memories. OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR is an exploration into that part of ourselves and our pasts. Haruka (Ayase/Cabanos) is a 16 year old girl that has found it difficult living with her father ever since the death of her mother. One day while visiting a temple, Haruka sees a fox-spirit called Teo (Sawashiro/Morris) and follows him into a magical world built from the loved possessions of humans that have been forgotten about. Haruka is soon looking for a mirror left to her by her mother.
OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR is a mixture of traditional anime style along with CG graphics. For years, anime has been seen as the continuing forefront of traditional 2D animation, but this is a welcome change of pace. The anime style of not always running quite so fluidly, may seem jarring at times in a 3D capacity, but it also captures a fantasy world unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The plot may be simple and follow similar tropes to the likes of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but seeing a world of forgotten toys in a mountainous array of colours is breathtaking at times. The hills are created with discarded items, and the level of detail is beguiling and intense.
Haruka makes for a brilliant heroine, as she isn’t always perfect; such as her arguments with her father. She’s a confused teenager that has tried to grow up far too quickly for her own good. In many ways, her journey to Oblivion Island is a chance to recapture those lost memories and her innocence. Joined by Teo, a fox/pig/mouse like creature, and one of her lost toys, Cotton (Matsumoto/Maddalena), Haruka goes on a journey of self discovery which is bound to tug at your heartstrings as we see her gradual regression into her past which ironically makes her grow as a character.
Amidst all the incredible visual imagery, which sets your imagination alight, the film also paces itself well with a number of harrowing scenes (but not unsuitable for younger audiences), comedy, and action. At one point the film looked as though it had discarded its messages and themes in favour of an, admittedly riveting, action packed finale. Fortunately, in the final moments we’re treated to a gorgeously crafted and powerful scene which may have you welling up.
OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR captures the absolute best moments of films from Studio Ghibli and Pixar and mixes them up to give us a brand new fantasy adventure. No doubt the majority of the audience will think back to those objects that once defined their entire lives, although some people probably still have those items, no matter how childish they are. This is the perfect kind of family film which will be subject to many a repeat viewings from people of every age and possibly handed down from parents to children.
Extras: The majority of the extras are simply promotional material, but like the film itself, it’s all handled with a taste of originality. For example, the star heads to a shrine that was the basis for one of the settings in the movie. Here she undergoes a traditional prayer as she wishes for the film’s success. In Battleship Island, the fictional island in the film is twinned with a real island with a fascinating history.
OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1st April via Manga Entertainment. We’ve also got one to give away, click here to win a copy!